There are many carnivals celebrated all over the world but the Carnival of Venice is one of the best known and most visited of them all. Hundreds of thousands of tourists come to Venice during the Carnival to enjoy the amazing costumes, Venetian Masks, events, balls, parties and of course Venice’s spectacular city attractions. Visiting the Carnival of Venice is easier than you might think, especially with the following useful information in hand!
When is the Carnival of Venice?
The Venice Carnival is an annual festival that’s taken place every year since it was reborn in 1979 though historically the Carnival of Venice is hundreds of years old.
Like many carnivals around the world, the actual dates of the Venice Carnival are dictated by the religious calendar, depending on when Lent falls. In 2011 the Carnival of Venice will be from Saturday 26 February until Tuesday 8 March but you can work out future years by knowing that it begins on a Friday or Saturday and runs for one and a half weeks until ending on Mardi Gras (or Fat) Tuesday.
Getting to the Carnival of Venice
The city of Venice is in high demand with tourists whatever the time of year but the peak summer season and the Venice Carnival season are the most popular times. If you’re planning to come along to the Carnival of Venice you should book your travel arrangements and accommodation as early as possible.
There are two airports that serve the Venice area – the Venice Marco Polo Airport, and the Treviso Airport. The Treviso Airport is good for cheaper flights to Venice but unless you want a longer transfer time you’d be better off booking a flight to Venice’s Marco Polo Airport instead. From the airport you can take a water taxi to the historic centre of Venice and arrive in style!
Where to Stay in Venice
During the Venice Carnival the streets of Venice are even more vibrant than the rest of the year and there’s always something going on! Staying in the heart of historic Venice puts you right in the middle of all the action giving you easy access to those events and all of Venice’s other attractions. However, the centre of Venice is the most expensive place to stay and is over budget for many visitors to the Venice Carnival.
You could also consider staying on the Mainland (Terreferma) as prices of hotels are considerably cheaper here and it’s easy to get over to the heart of Venice via boats and the bridge that connects the centre of Venice to the mainland.
Another option is the outlying islands of the Venetian Lagoon such as the Lido, Murano, and Burano to name just a few, and these are connected to central Venice via water buses, called vaporetti.
Venice Carnival Events
With Venice’s reputation for being such an expensive city it’s reassuring to know that the majority of events at the Carnival of Venice are actually free! Numerous events take place across the course of the one and a half week long Venice Carnival including performances, parties, children’s events, fireworks, competitions, and of course the famous masked balls!
Most of the events that take place within the streets and squares of Venice are free to attend and you can pick up a calendar of events from the Venice tourist information centres at the beginning of your stay in Venice or check the posted schedules each day in places like St Mark’s Square.
If you want to get along to one of Venice’s famous masked balls then you’ll need to spend some money to do so! Demand is high for these events even though ticket prices can be very high, and to really look the part you’ll need to splash out on buying or renting a costume and of course a mask!
Venice Carnival Opening and Closing Parties
The opening and closing parties are usually the most popular events each year of the Venice Carnival, attracting thousands of people into the huge St Mark’s Square. The Grand Opening Party will take place on the first Sunday of the Carnival of Venice, and the night ends with a spectacular fireworks show, definitely one of the highlights of the Venice Carnival for many visitors!